Community Voices

Pastor to be honored for 51 years of leadership in Liberty City

The congregation, family and friends will honor the iconic pastor Bishop Walter H. Richardson on April 23 and 24 for 51 years of continuous service as the spiritual leader of The Church of God Tabernacle (True Holiness) in Liberty City.

Richardson, 93, has served not only his congregation, but also the local community and people abroad, by stepping in quietly whenever there is a need. It could be feeding the hungry in Liberty City or it could be sending needed items to those who have been devastated by natural disasters. And he does it without fanfare.

This weekend, however, there will be some well-deserved fanfare as the congregation honors Richardson at a luncheon to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 23, and at special worship services to begin at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 24.

Whenever he is asked about retirement, Richardson answers, “I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that a man of God should retire at a certain time or date. So, I’m just going to work until He tells me to stop.” Although he answers in a somewhat humorous way, you know that Richardson is serious.

Preaching the Gospel and teaching the way of the Lord is simply what he does. It has been his life for more than six decades (He was an evangelist at the church before being anointed pastor in 1965). And it is what he loves doing.

While some might question his remaining pastor of the church for more than five decades, Richardson simply said, “This is a job God appointed me and I will see it through to the end.”

Those who might doubt his ability to continue on as pastor of the church only need to attend one of the services to see him in action. He is sharp-witted and alert and has a warm sense of humor. He often graces the worship service singing his favorite songs in a strong, tenor voice. One of my favorites is Deep River, which he performs when requested at the Black History Month programs.

As bishop, Richardson oversees churches at Belle Glade, Vero Beach and Valdosta, Georgia.

I came to the church in 1961. A year and a half later, I was a young widow with two young children. Bishop Richardson became a surrogate father to me and my two sons — Rick (now deceased) and Shawn.

As my sons were growing up, I often sought counsel from him — both spiritual and natural. I found him to be a wise and caring man, whose advice turned out to be priceless to me.

Recently Joel Pompey, a member of the church, spoke of the importance of Richardson’s leadership to him and his family:

“Some people don’t understand it when we honor our pastor. They say we are worshiping the man. But, no, we don’t worship him — we worship God. And when we honor Bishop Richardson, we are simply doing as the Bible instructs us to do — ‘honor those to whom honor is due....’ Our pastor is worthy of the honors bestowed on him. He is a true man of God.”

The celebration luncheon will be at the Miami Shores Country Club, 10000 Biscayne Blvd. The program will include testimonials, presentations and special music.

Worship services at the church, 1351 NW 67th St., will include preaching and special music performed by the Mass Choir. Everyone is invited.

Richardson is the father of two sons — the Rev. Dr. Walter T., the pastor emeritus at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist in Perrine, and Elder Alfred J. of Atlanta. He has three grandchildren; 14 great-grands, and three great-great-grandchildren. He and his wife, Betty, were married in 2000, after he had been a widower for four years. (He was married to Poseline, the mother of his sons, 49 years, when she died in 1996.) Richardson and his wife live in Miami Gardens.

Happy Passover

It’s happy Passover to all our Jewish friends.

In keeping with that, Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom invites the community to its First Night Seder to begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 22. Rabbi Manuel Armon and Cantor Irving Resnick will officiate at the full, traditional Seder.

Candle lighting and Kabbalat Shabbat services will begin at 7:30, followed by the Seder at 8 p.m.

The cost is $50 per adult; $90 per couple; $15 per child ages 13-17, and $10 per child ages 8-12. To make your reservations, send an email to: info@templebethtov.org or call 786-366-0919 or 305-661-1421.

The synagogue is at 6438 SW Eighth St. in West Miami.

Second-Night Seder

Ahavat Olam Synagogue in Kendall will host its 11th annual Second Night Passover Seder at 6:45 p.m. Saturday at Roasters’ n Toasters, 9465 S. Dixie Hwy. in the Dadeland Plaza Shopping Center in Pinecrest.

The Passover Seder will be led by Rabbi Danny Marmorstein and the Seder will include a choice of chicken, brisket or salmon, vegetables, wine and baked desserts. Vegetarian dinners are also available. The cost is $40 per person and $25 per child for children under 10.

The Seder is open to the public, but reservations are required. To reserve your space, call the synagogue at 305-412-4240 or email: members@ahavatolam.org.

Unity Day

The community is invited to Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 24, as the pastor and congregation observe Unity Day.

The Rev. Vensen Ambau, pastor of the church, will preach. Following the worship service, a complimentary dinner will be served. The church is at 1201 NW 111th St.

CLI Fellow

Warm congratulations to the Rev. Mario E. Milian, rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Parish in Coral Gables, who has been named a Fellow in the 2016-17 Christian Leadership Initiative (CLI), which is co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Milian will join a select group of clergy leaders of various denominations, deans and professors of seminaries, and professors of religious studies at major universities.

According to information from St. Thomas, the fellowship provides the opportunity for Milian “to study the intellectual foundations of religious pluralism and inter-religious studies so vital to the life of faith today in the St. Thomas church and school community and in the global community.”

As a fellow, Milian and other Christian scholars will study Judaism and Jewish texts with the goal of providing a more profound understanding of Judaism, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The fellowship includes airfares to and from Jerusalem for two consecutive summers for 10 days of intense study under internationally recognized scholars, hotel accommodations and tuition. During the year, monthly webinars continue the program by distance learning.

St. Thomas is at 5690 North Kendall Dr. in Coral Gables.

Rummage sale

The Springtime Rummage Sale at First Church of North Miami, UCC, at 1200 NE 135th St., will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 30 in the back of the church’s campus in Pullman Hall.

Items for sale will include clothes for children and adults, kitchenware and knickknacks for the house and garden. Also, fresh baked goods and hot dogs.

The church invites you to bring your family, friends and neighbors to the event. There is no admission fee.

‘Places We Call Home’

The free breakfast talks on “Places We Call Home,” an Arts at St. John’s and The Betsy Hotel presentation, will continue Mondays through May 9 at The Betsy Hotel, 1440 Ocean Dr. in Miami Beach.

On April 25, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. the Rev. Gaye Bosley-Mitchell, worship pastor at St. John’s on the Lake, will speak on “Faith Communities as Places We Call Home.” In her talk, Bosley-Mitchell, who has a Master of divinity from Emory University, will say, “In today’s multicultural and transient communities, one’s faith community may be one’s only home.”

The talks will continue from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on May 9 with Phillip Bracken-Tripp (Retired) as the guest speaker. His topic will be: “Military Families and their Ever-Changing Homes.”

Bracken-Tripp is artistic director of Arts at St. Johns, and adjunct professor at Miami Dade College. He has a Masters of Music in music performance and music theory from West Virginia University. He said, “Since military families often relocate every few years, the children’s “homes” often are mere nostalgic memories.”

To RSVP for the talks go to: artsandculture@thebetsyhotel.com

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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